Election Notes 7: It’s easy, go and do it.

Making a pencilled cross on a piece of paper isn’t such a big deal; yet, when I vote, it always makes me feel great. I live in a country where it’s allowed; where it actually makes a difference. Nobody can tell me how to vote. Nobody can know how I voted.

It’s not difficult. Get your polling card (although you actually don’t need it) and go to the polling station given on it. You can ignore the people outside; they are party representatives trying to work out how many of their supporters have voted. (I always politely just say “no” when they ask me.) They CANNOT by law ask you how you vote. Go inside, give your card to the nice person behind the desk. They will give you a ballot paper. Go to the booth, make a simple cross against the name of your chosen candidate with the pencil provided. Resist the temptation to write or draw something rude. Fold the paper, put it in the box. Thank the nice person behind the desk (not obligatory, but it’s a thankless job). Go out, ignore the canvassers again and go for a coffee (not obligatory).

That’s it. Simples. Of course, that doesn’t have to be the end for another five years. You can get involved, write, campaign, etc. More on this later. (No groaning at the back there.)

Oh, and if you still aren’t decided, pick the candidate whose policies you dislike the least.

People died for the vote. I cannot get out of my head the image of South Africans queueing for hours in the sun to vote after the end of apartheid. Don’t let apathy win.

Vote Oblique

Note: There is a good article for first time voters here: BBC News- What can you NOT do in a polling station?

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Election Notes 6: The Others

Just for the sake of balance and completeness, here are election pamphlets from the other political parties in the our constituency. We had not yet received them at the time of my post Election Notes 5: Who Should I Vote For?.

None of them have photos of their party leaders, although the independent candidate probably is the party leader.

As usual, I am sitting on the fence until the splinters hurt too much; but a vote for a minority candidate is not a wasted vote; if that person fits your views best, then you have made your views known.

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Election Notes 5: Who Should I Vote For?

Well, don’t ask me. I am still undecided, and I wouldn’t tell you how to vote anyway.

I have said before that if you don’t know about the issues, it’s your duty to find out. I’m aware that’s incredibly naive of me.

At least you could look at the election fliers that come through your letterbox. They do give some sort of indication of what is occupying the minds of the parties. Here are the ones we have had since the election was announced.

Interestingly, only one uses a photo of the party leader. One uses a photo of the leader of another party. I’ll leave it to you to guess which one. The problem is that I agree and disagree with points in all of them. That’s democracy, folks.

Additionally, at least two other parties which have fielded candidates in the past have not yet posted pamphlets. Does this mean they are not running? Does it mean they can’t afford the cost?

(I did, in my usual anxiety to be fair, place the above in alphabetical order.)

Election Notes 4: Registration

If I sound as if I’m obsessed by this, I do not apologise; I am deeply concerned that everybody should vote, and if I can persuade just one person who was not going to that they should exercise their democratic right and responsibility, then it will have been worth it. If you are a UK citizen and you haven’t been registered, it’s dead easy. Just go on this website:

https://www.gov.uk/register-to-vote

It takes about five minutes or less and all you need is your National Insurance number. It doesn’t matter if you have already done it- you don’t get two votes! (Yes, if you’ve already got a polling card you don’t need to do it.)

Then you can vote in the June 8th election. You can choose by hair colour, dress sense, personality, political party or even (for goodness’ sake!) their policies.

Just do it. But register before midnight on Monday May 22nd or you will be disenfranchised. Painful.

Election Note 2

Election notes 2

Briefly: At the time of the last election, I was talking to a young, intelligent woman who told me that she would not be voting because she did not know anything about the choices. I was horrified, but failed to persuade her to vote.

Last night I was reminded of this when a potential voter in the West Midlands was interviewed about the forthcoming mayoral election. She was not aware this poll was happening.

There is no law in the U.K. compelling one to vote. Apparently there is in at least twelve countries, including Nauru and Cyprus. I’m not sure if compulsion is a good idea; ultimately I consider it’s your right to vote or not. However, I strongly believe you should vote.

If you don’t vote, you are letting politicians get away with anything they like. The vast majority are very well-intentioned, but it’s a slippery slope. You cannot moan, grumble or complain about their actions unless you have made your voice heard. Of course, your elected representative may not do what you want, and you may not have voted for them anyway; but you can write to them, campaign, discuss; this is a democracy and still pretty free. (Are you allowed two semi-colons in one sentence? Oblique style is to over-use them, I’m afraid.)

If you don’t know enough about it, go out and find out about it. We should all be involved in our democracy. That’s what makes it still great.

Phew, got carried away. Must go and have a lie-down. No- it’s coffee time!

Election Note 1

Another election looms in the U.K. While I don’t intend this blog to promote any particular political view, I will be voting and I would urge anybody eligible in the U.K. to vote. It DOES make a difference; you CAN make your views known and take action in many other ways, but you have no right to moan if you haven’t voted. (More on this at a later date. If I get round to more election notes.)

Election notes 1One strange phenomenon of which I was first aware during the last election and which has appeared again this time is the staged meet-the-public photo-opportunity. All the party leaders and other prominent characters have been in these. They appear to be speaking to a group of the public; of course, this group is a group of their party members and supporters, all carrying supportive placards and cheering on their leader. In one recent such occasion you could spot the constituency candidate smiling awkwardly behind the main man. (There’s a clue.)

I was musing on this today when a news item appeared on the TV which struck me forcefully with its similarities to the U.K. situation. It was a short clip of the North Korean leader, Kim Jong Un, beaming as he walked along being applauded by a group of his generals.

Now I’m not for a moment suggesting that our political parties and their leaders are in any way like Kim Jong Un and the North Koreans. However, such staged and artificial situations are not worthy of our democracy.

In case you are wondering, I have not yet finalised the Oblique election manifesto. Chocolate may well feature. I am consulting my supporters. Certainly baseball caps worn back-to-front will be banned. The Fashion Police may be given increased powers of enforcement.

Dawn of a New Age?

Reckless with the freedom that retirement offers, we decide to stay up to watch the American election results.

11.15 p.m.  We start with the BBC. Straight away, we notice that Scot Andrew Neill seems to have adopted an American accent. Rather worried, we switch to ITV. A woman is saying that she felt emotional when voting. Similarly, I get a surge of pride whenever I go into a voting booth in this country and put my pencilled X. I get annoyed when people don’t vote; many of their forebears suffered for these rights. I recall with awe the long, patient queues in the sun when apartheid ended and there were free elections in South Africa.

Every American I have ever met-here and in my only visit, a fortnight in California (probably not typical)- has been courteous, polite, helpful and friendly. Why does the image I get from the media so often contradict this?

11.36 p.m.  Both sides are saying they are very encouraged, and things are very positive for them. I have heard this before somewhere.

11.32 p.m.  Apparently many Trump supporters feel that the media are the enemy; that so much reminds me of the Brexit debate. “We are hearing of the divides that need to be healed,” a commentator says.This really is a problem we are facing here as well. Why can’t we agree to disagree?

11.45 p.m. As there are ads, we switch to Sky. A very busy screen.

11.51 p.m.  Back to the BBC. A welter of polls and statistics. What is ‘favourability’?

Mrs O. points out that many people voted for Brexit because they wanted a change, and that this seems to be the root of much of the support for Trump.

There is an awful tendency to regard this election as a soap opera, or TV drama. It’s not, of course; it will impact on us enormously. Or will it?

Nothing has really happened yet, but the commentators tirelessly attempt to make news. Oh, sorry, I haven’t noticed! Apparently it’s 19-3 to Trump. (I notice some of the presenters saying ‘gonna’ rather than ‘going to’. )

12.51 a.m.  There is a tremendous amount of discussion about differing groups of the American electorate: Hispanic, white, black….. female, male….. in a way that does not seem so prominent in the U.K. It seems to me that racial groupings in particular do not have such an influence here.

We change into our night clothes and cover ourselves with the duvet. Tea and pizza. I looked at Twitter but I never seem to find the controversial tweets. 68-37 to Clinton. We don’t really understand this electoral college system. Presumably it’s keyed to the population of the states. I have just looked it up and found a good explanation here: Independent newspaper. It all looks very confusing…. and there is some controversy about how fair it is.

1.28 a.m.  Again there is talk of how groups in America feel they have been neglected; that they want attention; that they are not represented. The commentators have drawn comparisons with Brexit; here again some of the Leave supporters felt the media and the political elite were alof and not listening to them. The American ambassador to the UK has just appealed for decency; President Obama has just given a similar message.

The score is Trump 72, Clinton 75. It’s tempting to view this as a sporting occasion.

I have invited Mrs O. to make a comment; “It’s early days”, she says, unarguably right. Will we last much longer?

2.09 a.m.  It has just been suggested (by an American) that there may be some sexism in the U.S.A. that means there is still a resistance to the idea of a woman president. Cheese and biscuits and banana chutney and wine. Just a splash of wine.

2.25 a.m.  Trump 137, Clinton 104. All the Americans interviewed have been very rational and considered; the Trump supporters have been very much peacemakers, especially as the prospect of President Trump seems to be looming.

Piers Morgan has just appeared. (We’re back on ITV.) He says Trump has made his pitch for white working-class men, rather than Latinos, African-American and female voters. On the BBC website, Trump has dropped back to 129 votes. Why? Sorry, back up to  137 now. Mrs O.wants one of the ITV ‘Washington DC’mugs.

We are debating whether or not it’s worth staying up… The BBC seems to think it’s poised, ITV perhaps more Trump…

2.55 a.m. We give up. If, by some faint chance, you read this in the morning, you will know the result before we do. What a weird evening…..

(The images are marked as ‘free to use’ on Google.)